Q&A with Flyers Hall of Famer Parent

Posted: May 20, 2014

HOCKEY HALL of Famer Bernie Parent played in a remarkable 73 games during the 1973-74 NHL season (47-13-12 record, 12 shutouts). His 1.89 goals-against average was off the charts. In the Stanley Cup-clinching sixth game of the '74 finals, he shut out powerful Boston, 1-0. Rick MacLeish scored the memorable game's only goal at 14:48 of the first period. Parent is a two-time NHL first-team All-Star.

Bill Fleischman, the Daily News' Flyers beat writer when the Flyers won their Stanley Cups, spoke with Parent, now 69, about his time as the Flyers goaltender and his life after hockey. Fleischman is the co-author, with the late Sonny Schwartz, of Parent's autobiography "Bernie, Bernie," published in 1975.

Q: Let's start with the same question I asked Bob Clarke; does it seem like 40 years have passed since the 1974 Stanley Cup?

Parent: It seems like it happened yesterday because different generations have transferred the excitement of us winning the Stanley Cup year after year. We're more recognized than when we played: It's a beautiful thing. Freddie [Shero] was right when he wrote on the blackboard before Game 6, "Win together today and we walk together forever."

Q: Bob Clarke said before the final against Boston the Flyers felt they were the better team and had better goaltending.

Parent: [Laughing], I agree about the better goaltending. In reality, that Boston team should've won in four or five games. But in life and sports, it doesn't matter what the odds are against you: What matters is what you believe. Our team had only been in existence 7 years. We had good preparation and good leadership.

Q: Your thoughts on Fred Shero as a coach?

Parent: He was a master. We believed in him and he believed in us. If there was an issue with a player he never handled it in front of the players; it was always in his office, one-on-one.

Q: You have a funny story about taking Fred and his family fishing on your boat.

Parent: Right, they stayed in our guest house at the shore. The [Shero] boys wanted to go fishing for tuna. We were out about 50 miles when I looked around and didn't see Freddie. He was below on a bunk, feeling sick. Later, I checked on him and he was still sick. I told him, "Remember those stops-and-starts you had us do after practice? Now we're even!"

Q: You returned to the ice 2 years ago in the Flyers-Rangers Alumni game played outdoors at Citizens Bank Park. What was that experience like?

Parent: That was the first time in 35 years I had the [goaltender's] equipment on. I only practiced twice and was only on the ice for 5 minutes. The Rangers were good to me: [Ron] Duguay shot the puck into my pads on a breakaway. When my career ended after I was hit in the eye with a stick [1979] I never had a chance to wave goodbye to our beautiful fans. This gave me the opportunity. The experience also was a lesson about never being afraid of something. You won't do as well as when you were 20 years old, but you're never too old to do something, and you'll feel good about yourself.

Q: When you were stopping pucks, hunting and fishing in the offseason were top priorities. You have really evolved as a person after hockey.

Parent: When you're an athlete you have two different lives: On the ice you're a performer, and as a human being. When you're in front of 18,000-20,000 people you get a beautiful natural high. When your career is over, even guys making millions can't replace that. It's a scary time. How do I keep my family at the same level we were at when I played? I didn't have the answer. I stayed with the Flyers organization as a goaltenders instructor. I learned so much playing in Toronto with Jacques Plante. But I wanted to see if I could live in the outside world. I was involved with a few companies, mostly new business development. Now, I go to all the Flyers home games with Bob Kelly and Gary Dornhoefer: We visit the suites and talk with the fans.

Q: You've talked freely about how alcoholism was a factor in your life.

Parent: Yes, I got some help and now I'm celebrating 35 years of sobriety. My attitude is, the sky's the limit. Every day I wonder what the universe has for me today.

Q: You've written a book with Daily News colleague Stan Hochman and your "Different Voice" column appears on www.philly.com.

Parent: One of the things I think about is, it's so different today from the old days. I recently signed a ticket to the 1974 Stanley Cup finals: The ticket price was $9.50. Back then, you would read the newspaper and visualize the whole game. Now, with the Internet, it's go-go-go; everything is so fast. I like to pick up the papers in the morning and sit for a half-hour: something magical happens. I feel relaxed.

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